- Department of Soil and Environment, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
The aim of this article is to provide information about crop production data based on large-scale organic farming and to point toward major consequences. National statistics show lower organic yields than compiled in meta-analyses from farm- and plot-scale. Yields of organically cropped legumes were 20% and nonlegumes 40% lower than those of conventionally grown crops. Area estimates showed that almost two of three crops were legumes or legume mixtures in organic farming, whereas one of three crops was a legume in conventional cropping. Doubling land use for legumes in organic farming affected the type of food produced, being dominated by milk products and red meat. Over all crops, the organic yield gap was 35%. Since yields are lower under organic than conventional practices, more land is required to produce the same amount of agricultural crops. A 35% yield gap means that 50% more arable land is required. A demand for 50% more farmland imposes huge land use changes and makes one realize the wide-ranging environmental consequences that follow when converting to organic farming. In a relevant comparison between organic and conventional cropping systems, environmental consequences caused by land use change such as lost products (timber, fiber, energy, etc.) and lost ecosystem services (sequestered carbon in soil, wildlife, biodiversity, etc.) must be included. The concept of organic farming was founded on philosophical views about nature, not biological science. Natural means and methods were assumed to be superior. Verification of the reasoning and statements of the founders on why to abandon mineral fertilizers cannot be corroborated by science and is incorrect. Scientific evidence for the concept to abandon synthetic mineral fertilizers as nutrients for crops is lacking. The scientific community is obliged to follow rigorous scientific criteria-not biased views, prejudices, or beliefs.
organic crop yield; yield gap; large scale versus farm; or plot-scale; meta-analysis; land use demand; environmental consequences; view on nature; doctrine
Outlook On Agriculture
2019, Volume: 48, number: 1, pages: 22-27
Publisher: SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD
SDG2 Zero hunger